When I was growing up, Star Trek was the kind of future we were taught to hope for. A Federation built on cooperation, mutual self-interest, cultural diversity and an enduring commitment to prosperity and peace (except with the Borg – there was no arguing with those guys). So when, in ‘The Wrath Of Khan’, Spock chose to sacrifice himself to save everyone else, his statement, ‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few’ was presented as a logical conclusion rather than a political viewpoint and we all admired him.
Times have changed. I can’t imagine a Federation future any more. I can only imagine a future in which most of us live less well than we used to while the very wealthiest continue to grow their wealth and their power.
Sounds pessimistic and disillusioned? Take a look at the numbers below and decide what you see. I see a future where the wealth of the world benefits the few and the many are left to compete with one another to escape from or keep out of poverty.
Despite the pandemic and the effects of climate change, average wealth per adultgorew by 7.67.% in 2020 so the average wealth per adult is now at an all time high of $79.952
Global wealth is now $418.3 trillion (a trillion is 1,000,000,000,000).
That wealth is, of course not evenly distributed around the world. For example, the average wealth per adult in the UK is $316.032, almost four times the global average (395%).
Nor is the wealth evenly distributed within a country The UK has 14.5 million people (about one in five) living in poverty. It also has 56 billionaires in 2021, up by nine from 2020. The UK’s 56 billionaires are worth an estimated $213.9 billion, up from $152.9 billion in 2020—meaning U.K. billionaires are $61 billion richer than a year ago (enough to give every adult in the UK $1billion and have the billionaires no worse off than they were in 2020). UK Billionaire wealth has grown by 40% in a year (more than five times the rate of wealth growth globally).
Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report
Average Household Savings & Wealth UK 2021
U.K. Billionaires Are Collectively $61 Billion Richer Than A Year Ago
2 thoughts on “‘The needs of the many’ – revisited – the future isn’t what it used to be”
I’m a card-carrying Trekkie (except there isn’t actually a card, as far as I know) and have been since 1966, when it all began. There are so many “Star Trek” moments that have helped to define how I have tried and still do try to live my life.
Perhaps I’m delusional or in denial, but I haven’t given up on the ideals of Trek. Although I became a Trekkie with the original series, it was The Next Generation that had some of the best “Yes, I want my life to reflect this philosophy” moments.
Even in the “history of the future,” there were many dark moments and events — hatred, prejudices, unbridled greed, wars, and rampant stupidity, which, in some ways, takes a far greater toll on progress than anything else — all the things that have constituted much of this world’s past, present, and ostensibly, its future. So many of the TNG episodes reflect the reality of our times, as they were intended to, and it doesn’t matter that TNG ended its run in 1994. Almost three decades later, the issues are still relevant. Some of those episodes were open-ended — I believe on purpose — to get across the idea that the issues being addressed are long-term problems that need to be solved. They still hadn’t been solved by the star dates of the depicted future, which means that there are no quick fixes and, not unlike a deadly virus, we just have to muddle through and suffer the consequences or our own, or others’, lack of foresight. That’s just part of the human condition.
Even in Star Trek’s idealistic future, nothing is perfect, which is good, because otherwise, there wouldn’t have been any stories to tell. If a perfect world came to exist, writers would be out of a job, often low-paying jobs to be sure, but jobs nonetheless. Perhaps, if the world were perfect and humans were flawless, there wouldn’t be much point to our existence anyway.
But enough wool-gathering about the future. I have to admit that I am, despite many of my more cynical moments, an unabashed optimist. I think part of that just comes from knowing and accepting that I cannot change the big picture. I haven’t enough money or power to alter the entire mural painted by greedy, destructive, sociopaths, but I *can* alter a little piece of that mural. I can paint my little section however I choose, and I choose to insert that little Starfleet insignia to symbolize the hope that keeps me putting one foot in front of the other every day, the hope that no matter how dark things may seem, good people can make a difference even if it is in just one other person’s life, and, by extension, I can make a difference even if it is in just one other person’s life. (And by person, I mean animals, too. Some days, I say to Jasper the Wonder Dog, “It’s just you and me, kid, but we’re going to get through this.” And in his eyes, I see the response: “I know we will…I trust you.”)
If I ever give up on this arguably foolish hope of mine, that the Star Trek ideal is achievable, then I’ll be forced to give up my title of Trekkie, and I never want to become too old or too cynical to do that. (I’m 70+ now and I’m thinking that there isn’t much chance of that happening…and I hope I’m right.)
Rose (the Delusional)
It’s good to hear from you. Hang on to your optimism. The world needs optimists, I’ve just never been one of them. Back when I thought the world would get better, it didn’t seem like optimism, just a sensible extrapolation of current trends.
I agree with you about TNG. I loved the whole ‘Make it so’ approach to leadership. And Data, of course, was the person who made the most sense to me.
My problem at the moment is that I feel I’m living in a country that’s been taken over by Ferengi who are being funded by Romulans.
Still, the Federation is still there across the Channel and I hope we can rejoin it one day.